comScore Author Tanith Lee Passes Away at 67 | The Mary Sue
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Iconic Sci Fi, Fantasy and Horror Author Tanith Lee Passes Away at 67

“Whatever the hell I am, I am Me."


Prolific and influential author Tanith Lee, who in 1980 became the first-ever woman to win the British Fantasy Award, passed away on Sunday at 67. Lee’s personal website now features the dates of her birth and death as well as a transcription:

Though we come and go, and pass into the shadows, where we leave behind us stories told – on paper, on the wings of butterflies, on the wind, on the hearts of others – there we are remembered, there we work magic and great change – passing on the fire like a torch – forever and forever. Till the sky falls, and all things are flawless and need no words at all.

A beautiful obituary over at Tor reports that the author’s initially undiagnosed dyslexia kept her from learning to read until age 8, but that she went on to publish her first piece by 21 and her first novel, the children’s fantasy The Dragon Hoard, by 1971.

In 1975 Lee’s first adult novel, The Birthgrave, was published with DAW; she went on to write dozens of novels, hundreds of short stories, and two episodes of the BBC space pirate series Blake’s 7. 

In addition to numerous other accolades throughout her lifetime, Lee was awarded the British Fantasy Society’s August Derleth Award for Death’s Master, the World Fantasy Awards for Best Short Story in both 1983 and 1984, and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the World Fantasy Convention and the Horror Writers Association.

Voyager publishing director Jane Johnson told The Guardian after Lee’s passing,

I published Tanith for only a short period at (seven years) during her immense career, but as always with Tanith that time was intense and marked by flashes of both brilliance and mischief.

She was as playful off the page as she was on it and loved nothing better than queening it in grand style at dinners and soirees, at which she excelled. I loved her fiction. It was, like her, inventive, elegant, sexy, bursting with imagination and gorgeous imagery.

If anyone has not read Silver Metal Lover (for instance), I urge them to do so: it pushes so many edges of the genre envelope, being tragic, erotic, wildly romantic, a powerful forerunner of modern YA science fiction.

Although Lee had difficulty finding a publisher in her later years, she never stopped writing, telling Realms of Fantasy

[M]ost of the so-called big publishers are unwilling even to look at a proposal. They aren’t interested in seeing anything from me, not even those houses I’ve worked with for many years. Where any slight interest in my turning in a book exists, I find I must work inside certain defined formulae. And to me that’s one of the arch inspiration-stranglers.

[…] I must add, that doesn’t stop me actually writing. Writing is one of the most important things in my life. I have, so far, a cupboard stocked with 3 completed never published novels – contemporary, horror, 2 short (original) story collections, and proposals for 4 books, 2 of them adult fantasies. I’m just now finishing another novel.

Lee’s published work had an obvious effect on the genre writing community, with countless fans and fellow authors taking to Twitter to mourn her passing:

Thank you for everything, Tanith. Hopefully you and Terry are somewhere being mischievous and brilliant together.

(via io9)

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